Why are marketers choosing Bollywood debutants to be the face of their brands?

Experts say younger celebrities help brands cash in on their freshness and are also less expensive

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Published: Jun 6, 2019 8:07 AM  | 4 min read
Tara Sutaria for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

Out with the old and in with the new. This seems to be the rule in the endorsement market this year, with Bollywood’s young stars being signed up instead of seasoned actors as faces of leading brands.

While the past few years were undisputedly ruled by the Khans and top actresses such as Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt and Priyanka Chopra, this year, actors such as Sara Ali Khan, Disha Patani, Mithila Palkar, Jhanavi Kapoor, Ananya Pandey and Tara Sutaria are the favourites of brands.

Sara Ali Khan, 23, is only two-film old, but has 11 brand endorsements in her kitty, with an estimated annual revenue of over Rs 30 crore this year alone. She endorses brands including Fanta, Puma, Ceriz, Veet and Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ).

Similarly, actor Disha Patani has become the first Indian celebrity to endorse Calvin Klein, MAC. She also endorses Pond’s.

But why are brands choosing these debutants to become their face?

According to Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., when the audience is young, what works best is a young star.

“Also, there is a tribe of "catch them young" out there. Here, brand endorsement fee structures are just about falling into place, and are therefore negotiable by a huge number. It’s a win-win for both, the brand and the endorser,” says Bijoor.

A popular face on OTT platforms, Mithila Palkar, has her kitty full with not just offers as an actor but also as the face of several popular brands. Palkar is the brand face of Joy face wash, Marico India’s hair care product Livon, which earlier had Kangana Ranaut as its brand ambassador. She also endorses Vodafone.

Palkar feels that the trend of having young talents like her as the face of a brand is here to stay. “People are looking out constantly for relatable content while watching shows or watching films and a familiar face helps. When I endorse a brand, I mostly look for something that is very close to me. There are many things that I personally believe in and I have faith in and if the brand is giving the same message through their product, I go for it. So if I see myself using something in the future, or I am using it already, I will totally endorse it,” says Palkar.

Palkar’s view is seconded by Koshy George, Chief Marketing Officer, Marico India, who believes that she truly embodies the spirit of the brand with her vivacious personality and brings it alive on mediums the millennial loves.

“Young, fun and fab, Livon is the go-to brand for great hair for the millennial who wants to look her best all the time. With its range that delivers salon finish hair on demand, Livon is the perfect companion for the girl who wants everything right here and right now. Mithila truly embodies the spirit of the brand with her vivacious personality and brings it alive on mediums the millennial loves.”

Brand expert Jagdeep Kapoor too believes that a brand needs young and contemporary brand ambassadors.

“My brand mantra is: ‘If a brand is not contemporary, it is temporary’. You need young, contemporary brand ambassadors to endorse brands to look young and to appeal to the youth and aspirational audience. There needs to be a connect between the stage of the brand with the age of the brand ambassador. Also, other advantage of choosing fresh faces is that you can catch them young when they are economical.”

One-movie-old actors Tara Sutaria and Ananya Pandey are also ambassadors of brands such as Bobby Brown and Lakme, respectively.

According to Saurabh Uboweja, International Brand Expert and CEO Brands of Desire, having a fresh face as an ambassador allows the brand to build a dominant association with the celebrity and gives it a first mover advantage.

“Younger actors are capable of relating better with the aspirations of a younger target audience. Besides, having a fresh face as an ambassador allows the brand to build a dominant association with the celebrity as a first mover advantage. If the actor goes on to become a prominent celebrity in the future, the brand will end up benefitting significantly from the association.”

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